J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Orissa government has strongly opposed in the Supreme Court an application by Archbishop of Cuttack Raphael Cheenath seeking a CBI probe into the rape of a nun by a mob at K. Nuagaon village in Kandhamal district on August 25.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan posted the matter for Tuesday. The Archbishop had filed the application in the pending writ petition for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the violent incidents in Kandhamal district. The State filed a reply stating that a judicial probe had already been ordered.

In the fresh reply, Orissa said a criminal case was registered on August 26 on a complaint of the nun against 40 to 50 unknown accused persons. The victim had not named anybody though she said she could identify the accused if they were produced before her. “Therefore the averments of the petitioner that the police knew about the identity of the attackers on August 25 are not correct and are denied,” Orissa said.

The reply said that immediately after lodging a first information report, the victim voluntarily went away from the area and was not available for investigation. The State government constituted a high-level team, mainly of women police officers, to trace the victim. Though the unavailability of the victim and other crucial witness, Father Chellan, seriously hampered the progress of investigation, the police tried their best to collect other evidence against the accused persons.

It said the investigation was being monitored at the highest level and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had condemned the heinous crime.

Compensation

On the Archbishop’s plea to direct the State to award Rs. 3 crore as compensation for the demolition of churches and destruction of property, the government said “no compensation is paid for the damaged religious institutions, irrespective of their religious affiliations, as per the secular policy of the State government. However, the State has declared that Rs. 2 lakh will be paid as ex gratia for damage to schools, hospitals, etc.”